The Fountainhead

by Ayn Rand

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Student Question

How does Howard Roark in The Fountainhead illustrate Ayn Rand's theory of rational egoism?

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Rand believed that man's ability to reason can be the only judge of his values and the only proper guide to what he does. Roark exhibits reason as he determines what feeds his ego and sustains his life. His individualism is his main quality that allows him to accomplish his goals. He never allows others to change his vision or tell him how to be successful. Roark's individualism makes him determined not to be influenced by others, especially when it affects his "creative vision". He believes individuality fosters self-sufficiency.

Roark's architectural designs reflect his individualism. He's thrown out of school because he refuses to conform to tradition. Roark has an "utter selfishness" to be himself no matter what. He also believes anything that comes from man's independent ego is good, while anything that comes from man's dependence is bad. He's willing to face criminal charges in order to keep his integrity in tact and to achieve his architectural vision. He's never shaken from his confidence and belief in himself and his abilities.

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